“I’ll tell you, seriously, the most amazing thing is listening to these two shows where we agreed word for word — we would not change a word, and nothing has been changed, and I can’t believe how relevant it is to this moment,” Norman Lear says of ABC’s star-studded Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons re-creation tonight.
With the seismic social awareness of two of the most influential small-screen offerings of all time still sharp, the 90-minute special fronted by Lear mega-fan Jimmy Kimmel offers a whole new direction for the live TV genre as network musicals of the past few years fade in the abundance of this Peak TV era. Add to that bauble factor a true jewel of a cast with Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes as George and Louise Jefferson, plus Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei as Archie and Edith Bunker.
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ABC turned back the clock Wednesday night with live reenactments of classic episodes of All in the Family and The Jeffersons in a special honoring legendary producer Norman Lear.
The all-star cast included Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei as Archie and Edith Bunker and Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes as George and Louise Jefferson, with Kerry Washington, Ellie Kemper, Will Ferrell, Anthony Anderson and Ike Barinholtz in supporting roles.
But there was one all-time fan favorite that couldnt be replaced: Marla Gibbs. Thats right! Gibbs reprised her role as the Jeffersons wisecracking maid, Florence Johnston, and its safe to say that even after all these years, shes still got it.
I actually got a little teary eyed seeing Marla Gibbs. What a great night of television! @kerrywashington @iamwandasykes @iamjamiefoxx #TheJeffersons #AllInTheFamily
Jennifer Hudson Slays Iconic The Jeffersons Theme Song for Live in Front of a Studio Audience | E! News
Though the night was a hit and fans were overall satisfied with the performances, some viewers were skeptical going in, thinking that ABC would make changes to fit todays audience. Needless to say, Archie Bunkers overt racism would never fly on television these days. But it became clear from the very beginning that they stayed true to the script. Seeing these episodes might open some eyes to the fact that decades after these episodes originally aired, sadly, were still having some of the same conversations relating to racism and sexism.
Jennifer Hudson Performs The Jeffersons Theme Song on Live in Front of a Studio Audience Special – Watch Now!
And if anyone questioned whether or not the shows were actually live, that became hilariously evident when Foxx flubbed his lines. Its live, Foxx said turning to the audience as his castmates tried (and failed) to keep from laughing in the background. Everyone sitting at home just think their TV just messed up. Foxx took a moment to compose himself and went forward with the performance.
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“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the 70s and would not work today. We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting All in the Family and The Jeffersons. the timelessness of human nature. I cannot wait to see what these glorious performers make in our time of these indelible characters, and I couldnt be more grateful for Jimmy Kimmel, Sony and ABC for their collective willingness to conceive and pursue this never-been-done-before event,” Lear said in a statement when the show was announced.